MALTA. 600,000 flew in last month.

Close to 600,000 passengers welcomed at Malta International Airport last month

17.5% increase over June last year

Air Malta Fly

Malta International Airport welcomed 578,827 passengers in June, a 17.5% increase over the same month last year.

June’s growth partly resulted from Malta International Airport’s recently launched summer schedule, which is it’s busiest yet, featuring an average of 130 flights a day.

Aircraft movements in June grew by 11.7%, reaching a total of 4,071. Seat capacity
increased by 15.5%, while seat load factor improved by 1.1 percentage points.

The airport’s top five markets in June were the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France, and Spain. All registered varying degrees of growth, with the Spanish market experiencing the most marked increase, at 38.2%.

June’s numbers bring the total number of passengers for the first half of the year up to 2,639,712.

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MALTA. Why I LOVE IT.

Malta STREET 2

LIVING IN MALTA IS GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH, CLAIMS STUDY

Living in Malta is good for your health, according to a study.

Researchers found Maltese people live on average 90 per cent of their life in good health, better than any other EU country.

Life expectancy in Malta was also higher than anywhere else in Europe.

Maltese men live on average until the age of 79.8 years – more than a year longer than the EU average.

Women, on the other hand, lived to the average age of 84.3, again, a year longer than the EU average.

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies report also showed that Malta has the lowest preventable death rate in Europe.

 

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Malta’s health minister Chris Fearne said: ‘We often cite statistics on operations, but the best health indicator for me is how we can keep our population free from disease.

‘Malta has the highest healthy living rate and the lowest preventable mortality rate in Europe, which shows that we must do something right.’

Obesity was ranked as the principal public health problem in Malta with one in four adults seriously overweight.

The report also described binge drinking as an important health issue for Malta, but noted that smoking had decreased ‘significantly’ over the past decade.

 

Malta STREET

To find out more about Malta see my books.

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) Victoria. Gozo.

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Victoria, or Rabat, which ever title it is given is a bustling little town in the centre of Gozo. While only 3km square with 7,000 inhabitants, the little capital is packed with quaint shops, traditional bars and exquisite restaurants.​ Victoria is not just the geographic heart of Gozo, it is also the centre of everyday activity. It manages to combine the bustle of its market and shops with a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. It is a great place to watch the Islanders go about their day, especially when the main market square, It-Tokk, comes to life.

 

VICTORIA RABAT GOZO

This little square is a real gem; beautiful old buildings, quaint pubs and cafe bars, and a myriad of market stalls selling all kinds of everything. The atmosphere here is always buzzing and is usually enlivened even further by buskers and entertainers performing to the delight of tourists that come from all over the world.

 

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Those visitors, having consumed the invigorating ambience of the square, then climb the energy-sapping hill to the medieval Citadel, with its fortifications, cathedral, museums and magnificent views. This is the centrepiece, not only of Victoria, but of the whole island. Towering majestically above the town since the fourteenth century, it can be seen from every corner of Gozo, and when I walk around its massive bastions, I can see all of this idyllic island, its panorama of green landscape, and the blue Mediterranean encircling it.

Hidden away in a smaller square just behind It-Tokk in the heart of the old town is for me the greatest treasure of Gozo, St George’s Basilica. This is the most richly adorned church in all of the Maltese Islands. Built between 1672 and 1678 it stands at the centre of a network of narrow, winding streets, its ornate baroque belfries, dome and transepts, all beautifully embellished, dominate the old square. The interior is just as magnificent, clad in marble with a canopied high alter similar to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. There are many gorgeous stained-glass windows in the dome and a treasure trove of wonderful works of art throughout. The dome and ceiling are the work of Roman artist Giovanni Battista Conti and other gems are by Mattia Preti, Guiseppe Cali and Stefano Erardi.

 

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Most of the images are of various events in the life of St George to whom the church is dedicated. The real masterpiece and a must-see attraction is in the side chapel to the right of the high alter. It is a truly remarkable statue of St George, carved by Paolo Azzopardi in 1841 from a single tree trunk.

The location of this glorious church is also the old quarter of the town of Victoria. I love to spend lots of time strolling around this area. It takes me back in time when I wander over the little narrow walking streets winding their way through some of the most enchanting old architecture. I can admire ornate baroque townhouses dating from the 17th century, many with little niches holding statues of Our Lady and other favourite saints. To meander around these little winding alleys with their unique atmosphere and quaint old world charm would delight any visitor. This is the real heart of Gozo and I never tire of submitting to its alluring magnetism.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

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To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) St Lawrence’s Church. Vittoriosa.

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The jewel of Vittoriosa’s waterfront is undoubtedly the beautiful church of St Lawrence, a 17th century reconstruction of the original church built by the Knights of St John in 1530. It is an imposing landmark with a magnificent dome and twin clock towers. The interior of this historic parish church is lavishly decorated with a unique collection of priceless treasures including the wonderful painting, ‘The Martyrdom of St Lawrence,’ by Malta’s greatest artist, Mattia Preti.

 

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In 1941, as World War 11 was raging and Malta was suffering severe bombing raids, the arrival of the aircraft carrier HMS ‘Illustrious’ into the Grand Harbour was a welcome sight for the war weary Maltese. Many believed the war was coming to an end. But it soon became apparent that the ship had suffered severe damage and loss of life. The aircraft carrier was hit six times while escorting a convoy in the Sicily channel and was hit a seventh time in another attack as it approached Malta. Despite the savage attack it suffered, and having been hit by more bombs than any other carrier, HMS ‘Illustrious’ managed to contain its fires, stem the flooding and limp into the relative safety of the Grand Harbour on January 10, 1941. The loss, however, was tragic: 126 crew members had been killed and 91 injured.

The presence of this famous enemy ship in the shelter of Malta’s Grand Harbour didn’t deter the German Luftwaffe and soon the first dive-bombing raids began with their menacing Junkers 88 and 89, so brutal and devastating that they reduced the inner harbour area, particularly Senglea and Vittoriosa, to a vast heap of ruins.

 

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On January 16th, 1941 the Church of St Lawrence was bombed by a German air raid. Both the sacristy and the chapter hall were destroyed. Thirty-three civilians, who were sheltering in the sacristy, were buried under the mass of rubble. The parish priest, who was sheltering in the belfry tower, dazed and badly shaken, rushed to the scene giving the last rites and helping the rescue efforts. The bodies were subsequently recovered from underneath the debris and miraculously, there was one survivor, a young baby.

 

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On March 22nd of the same year the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament was destroyed and on April 4th 1942, the dome of the church was destroyed. The chapel was re-built in 1951 and the dome was re-built in 1952. A visit to this beautiful, peaceful church today brings me back to those awful days of war horror and I say a silent prayer in gratitude for the peace we now enjoy and in memory of all the victims who gave their lives in those tragic events.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

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To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) The National Aquarium.

Aquarium

Malta’s National Aquarium only recently opened its doors to the public and already it is proving a huge attraction for the Maltese and for tourists from all over the world. Opened in 2013, this glass and metal star-fish-shaped building is set in a sublime position on the Qawra headland, with endless views of the Mediterranean Sea.

The aquarium features 26 tanks and over 175 different species of fish. Spread over 20,000 square meters the complex includes a public garden, ample parking, facilities for local dive schools and catering facilities, including a bespoke beach club with an inviting infinity pool appropriately named ‘Cafe Del Mar‘ as well as tourist services and souvenirs shops. The complex also includes a fabulous children’s playground (free of charge) and stunning views from its Le Nave restaurant and outdoor cafe.

 

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The main tank in the aquarium is the home for various species from the Indian Ocean including two varieties of shark species. Approximately 12 meters in diameter the main tank also includes a water tunnel allowing visitors to walk through and feel a real sense of immersion in this underwater world. Amongst others, there is also a selection of Mediterranean fish, commonly found in Maltese waters and replicas of historical artefacts that surround the Maltese sea floor. Additional features at the complex include an exhibition space, touch pools, veterinary and quarantine facilities and a class room facility. The public garden will also provide various other recreational activities.

 

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Having watched the construction of this beautiful complex I am hugely impressed with the finished project. I know that it was funded mainly by the EU and would not have been possible without the European cash, but I still applaud the Malta Government and the Tourist Board for their vision and foresight in the creation of this beautiful world class project.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

Paperback cover

To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) Qawra.

Qawra 1

Qawra

Qawra lies between Buġibba and Salina in the north, and is a popular tourists resort with many hotels and restaurants. Although there are no sandy beaches, many people swim off the rocks, which provide ample space for sun bathing. It is a popular area with tourists who like to enjoy a peaceful and relaxing holiday in an idyllic location. The seaside resort is just 17.6 kilometres (10.9 miles) away from Valletta, the capital city of Malta. It is an ideal centre for exploring the island of Malta, with an excellent road network, many car-hire facilities, and the bus terminus located in the town centre.

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Around 1638, the Knights of St. John built Qawra Tower at Qawra Point. A battery was built around it in 1715, while an entrenchment wall was added in the 1760s. This is one of the many watch towers built by the Knights and this one watches St. Paul’s Bay to the west and Salina Bay to the east. The tower is now a restaurant, and parts of the entrenchment wall can still be seen.

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The resort of Qawra was built with the general idea of attracting British tourists, and its hotels, holiday apartments, restaurants, cafes, shops, bars, casinos, and other tourist facilities have a distinct British ambiance. Hotels offer long-stay winter holidays, ideal for retired UK sun seekers, and British football is shown live in almost all pubs and clubs.

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Water sports dominate the shoreline, and although there are no sandy beaches, swimming, sunbathing and diving are still very popular activities. There is a long promenade that stretches for around 3km all the way to St. Paul’s Bay. This walkway outlines the rocky shoreline, and provides fantastic views of the open sea. It offers a perfect space for leisurely walks and jogs, especially during the evenings, when the sea and sun merge in spectacular colours.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

Paperback cover

To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) Marsascala.

Marsascala 1

MARSASCALA

Marsascala is a sea-side village in the South Eastern Region of Malta that has grown around the small harbour at the head of Marsaskala Bay, a long narrow inlet also known as Marsaskala Creek. The population in winter is about 12,000 people, but this swells to over 20,000 in summer as many Maltese families have summer homes there and it is fast becoming an attractive holiday resort. A prominent landmark is the beautiful parish church which is dedicated to St. Anne, whose feast is celebrated at the end of July and is a big occasion in Marsascala.

Marsascala has always been, and still is a fishing village. The picturesque bay is full of colourful fishing boats and pleasure boats of all shapes and sizes. The village has expanded rapidly in recent years and now reaches to both sides of the bay. The attractive promenade continues all the way to St Thomas Bay with views of low shelving rocks, beautiful scenery and saltpans. During the summer months Marsascala is buzzing with life and leisure activity. Its many hotels and apartments are always fully booked and for those thousands who holiday in Marsascala it is the place to be, enjoying the friendly hospitality and the hot sunshine.

 

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Despite its rapid growth in recent years, Marsascala is largely unspoiled. It still has the feel of a traditional fishing village. But it has also moved with the modern times, embracing the culture of tourism and providing first class services for its visitors. Here you will find some of the best restaurants, many of them specializing in typical Maltese fish cuisine.

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Marsascala is still one of the undiscovered gems of the Maltese Islands. It is less populated than the larger more upmarket resort areas. Anyone looking for a more peaceful area to enjoy the sea front, beautiful views, fish cuisine and scuba diving will find Marsascala to be a great holiday resort.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

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To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) MSIDA.

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Msida

Msida could be described now as a large village or a small town. It is located beside the harbour and has a population of 8,000 people. It was previously an old fishing village, but although it is now more urbanised, some fishermen still operate in the village. The lower part of Msida lies at the outlet of a valley and is mostly commercial. The higher part, which many tourists never see, is a charming old residential area with narrow hilly streets and winding pathways. Most of the lower village centre was reclaimed from the sea after the Second World War.

 

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Today, Msida is best known and is hugely important for being the location of the University of Malta, the GF Abela Junior College, the Yacht Marina and the Mater Dei General Hospital.

The University overlooks the village from a hill known as Tal-Qroqq. There are 11,500 students on the campus, including 750 international students from 82 countries following full-time or part-time degree and diploma courses. Over 3,000 students graduate annually. There are a further 2,500 students at the Junior College, which is also managed by the university. Most of the students commute daily but those from Gozo and the international students are accommodated in the surrounding areas. All this movement of lively and exuberant young people creates a buzz around Msida in stark contrast to Malta’s other quieter and more tranquil inland villages.

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The Msida and Ta’ Xbiex Marinas, many times referred to as the Sliema Marina, form the largest marina in Malta. These Marinas together provide mooring facilities for more than 700 boats on 15 serviced pontoons. It is located inside Marsamxett Harbour, which makes it safe and well sheltered, as well as conveniently central. The Marina is operated by Creek Developments Plc, who provides every facility, including showers, toilets, water and electricity.

The Marina can handle pleasure yachts of up to 22 metres in length at this excellent picturesque location. I have often strolled around this expansive enclosure of luxury which is always full to capacity with gorgeous yachts of all shapes and sizes. I find it an absorbing experience and a fleeting glimpse of another world.

The Mater Dei is Malta’s new state of the art hospital and is situated on the outskirts of Msida. Opened in 2007, it is the flagship of the excellent health services of the Maltese Islands. It is massive, covering 250,000 square metres and commands a strategic position visible from far and wide. Some of its statistics are staggering; 3,760 staff, 850 beds, 25 fully equipped operating theatres and cost 600 million Euro to build. It was a brave move by the Malta government to embark on such an ambitious project but now their vision and courage is much appreciated by everyone who needs its services, including many tourists.

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As in most Malta villages the dominant landmark is the parish church and Msida is another example of the pride and status of the church in its midst. Saint Joseph’s Parish Church stands tall and elegant in the centre of the village and is clearly visible from every direction. It is a beautiful traditional baroque design, built in the late 19th century and replaced the old church of the Immaculate Conception which still exists today.

The façade is hugely impressive comprising of a series of bays with the two outer bays surmounted by well-proportioned bell-towers. However, the main artistic highlight lies within the interior of the church with a mystical fresco painting over the choir vault depicting the death of St Joseph. Msida’s Festa in honour of St Joseph is quite special because it is celebrated for a full week and a half in July. It is also unique for the playing of the traditional game known as il-Gostra (pronounced il-jostra) where local men compete in trying to reach a flag at the end of a slippery log and invariably splash into the sea below!

Most tourists only get a passing glance of Msida when travelling between Valletta, Sliema and other towns and resorts. But having spent many enjoyable days in and around Msida I can say it is a bustling, lively and stimulating area, well worth spending a few hours there and exploring its many interesting features.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

Paperback cover

To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) DINGLI CLIFFS.

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DINGLI CLIFFS

Dingli is a village near the western coastline of Malta, with a population of around 3,600.  It is two kilometres from Rabat and it lies on a plateau some 250 metres above sea level, which is one of the highest points of Malta. The area provides not only open sea views over the tiny, uninhabited isle of Filfla, but is also a good vantage point over Malta. From the cliffs there are also views of the nearby Buskett Gardens and Verdala Palace. The name Dingli is believed to be derived from the name of Sir Thomas Dingley, an English Knight of the Order of St. John, who owned much of the lands in the surrounding area.

 

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Nearby are the spectacular Dingli Cliffs, the highest spot on the island and the most fantastic sea views in Malta. Their flat rocky top is a great place for walking and there is usually a beautiful refreshing breeze up there. It is also possible to drive along the edge of the cliff for some distance. The views of the Mediterranean are spectacular and this is a popular spot from which to watch the sunset. In spring the area is covered in wild flowers, in summer wild fennel and caper bushes flourish, and the smell of thyme wafts up as you brush the greenery underfoot. The cliffs are simply majestic, particularly if viewed from a boat while cruising, but also from the top – the views are breathtaking, overlooking the small terraced fields below, the open sea, and Filfla, the small uninhabited island just across.

 

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It is also a place to unearth important local history and archaeology. Here we find the most impressive concentration of ‘Cart Ruts’ in Malta. Those ‘Ruts’, burrowed into the rocks, have been a mystery to archaeologists, striving to find a satisfactory explanation as to their origin. The most accepted theory is that they were made by cart wheels during the Bronze Age (2300-800 BC). British archaeologists have named this network of ‘Ruts’ found in Dingli, ‘Clapham Junction Cart Ruts’ after a similar intricate network of rail lines at Clapham Junction station in South London.

 

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This area of Malta has long been one of my favourites. This is where land and sea collide and where untamed beauty abounds. I love to drive around this heavenly landscape at my leisure. The panoramic views over the deep blue Mediterranean always takes my breath away. The peaceful rural life of the surrounding countryside is a soothing experience to savour and if I’m lucky I might even spot a goat herder sitting in a field watching his flock graze in the lush winter grass or I might meet up with the last shepherd roaming the cliffs.

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

Paperback cover

To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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MALTA (The Hidden Treasures) COMINO. The Blue Lagoon.

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COMINO

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THE BLUE LAGOON

Comino is a rocky wilderness, with jagged cliffs, two small sandy beaches, coves, creeks and a coastline dotted with deep caves. And of course, Comino Island is known for the famous Blue Lagoon bay with its crystal clear and azure-coloured water. With a permanent population of just four residents, one visiting priest and a policeman, this rugged little hideaway conjures up pleasant thoughts of dreamy island happiness. Indeed, only a few minutes from Malta’s mainland, the island of Comino presents an interesting little odyssey and a day trip of pleasant surprises.​

 

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Named after the plentiful cumin (flowering plant) that grows on the island, Comino is thick with wild herbs and flowers, with the entire island classified as a wildlife sanctuary nowadays. It is mostly visited by tourists for a day trip while some of the more adventurous Maltese people  visit Comino to camp or hike across the island.

 

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The island was inhabited in the Roman period, but did not have much significance until the Knights of St John arrived. It then had a dual role: hunting grounds for the Knights and a staging post in the defence of the Maltese Islands against the Ottoman Turks. It had proved a useful base for pirates operating in the central Mediterranean and, though stark and barren today, it was home to wild boar and hares when the Knights arrived in 1530. The Grandmasters went to great lengths to ensure that their game on Comino was protected: anyone found breaking the embargo on hunting could expect to serve three years rowing on a galley. After World War II, Comino remained a backwater until its fortunes revived with tourism in the mid-1960s.

 

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Although most famous for the Blue Lagoon, with its  sheltered bay of shimmering, clear water and easily accessible through the several boat trip operators in Malta or Gozo, there is much more to see beyond the lagoon. Comino is steeped in caves, creeks and grottos which lend themselves well to scuba diving, snorkelling and swimming, with many sunken treasures around as these caves were popular with corsairs (pirates) in the Middle Ages.

Comino has no cars or tarmac roads, has one hotel, a tiny ancient chapel and a small police station. But in summer it is a major tourist attraction offering a complete change of pace from the neighbouring islands of Malta and Gozo and is a great place to go for a day trip, or even to spend part of a holiday, especially for those who cherish peace and tranquillity.

 

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From ‘IN LOVE WITH MALTA’ (The Hidden Treasures)

Paperback cover

To read a free excerpt or to buy the book click on this link:

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To see all my books click on this link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paddy-Cummins/e/B0034NVEA0/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

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